Monday, October 13, 2014

Something seismic from the Roman Catholic Synod

Writing in America Magazine, Jesuit Fr James Martin describes a "stunning change" from the Synod on the Family:
The Synod said that gay people have "gifts and talents to offer the Christian community." This is something that even a few years ago would have been unthinkable, from even the most open-minded of prelates--that is, a statement of outright praise for the contribution of gays and lesbians, with no caveat and no reflexive mention of sin. And, regarding same-sex partners, the Synod document declared, remarkably, "Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners." That any church document would praise same-sex "partners" in any way (and even use the word "partners") is astonishing.

The Synod also asks questions, challenging dioceses and parishes: "Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?"

This represents a revolutionary change in how the church addresses the LGBT community. Nowhere in the document are such terms as "intrinsically disordered," "objectively disordered," or even the idea of "disinterested friendships" among gays and lesbians, which was used just recently. The veteran Vaticanologist John Thavis rightly called the document an "earthquake."
Now, no LGBT couple is going to get married in the Roman Catholic church any time soon (and probably never). But it could be that the Synod is expressing some dismay at the effects of the culture war in rejecting civilly married gay Catholics from the pews, purging them from service roles, or rejecting the children of gay parents for Baptism and schooling. We can but hope.

6 comments:

JCF said...

"Inch-by-inch, row-by-row, that's the way [equality] grows..."

JCF said...

Reading the document (i.e., the gay part---maybe we'll talk about some other het aspects another time):

There's a lot of (poorly-translated?) theological/academic gobbledy-good jargon. A glaring example:

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. [Dissertation committee orders re-writes! ;-/]

Then there's this:

"it [is not] acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology."

The first is the religious liberty CANARD: "Oh noes, they'll make Father Flannagan at St Mary's marry two dudes!!1!1!" Utter poppycock.

But the latter: do they have the GALL to say we in the West can't use the power of the purse re UGANDA's (Russia, Nigeria, et al) "introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology"??? "We hold it self-evident", Popoids. We're all free UNLESS homophobes (and other misogynists) "introduce regulations" borne of that homophobia&misogyny! >:-(

The ending bit (of the gay section): how did y'all read it?

"the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority"

Is Rome saying "don't discriminate against the children of sex-sex couples", or that "the little ones" are ENTITLED to "a mom and dad" (as phobes the world over are using as a tagline), and that the Church supports TAKING the little ones from their Icky Queer Parents, to give to that nice childless het couple in the parish? [I think you can see my Hermeneutic of Suspicion flaring up, esp in light of the mad marchers like those French "Manif Pour Tous" @rseholes]

That said: yes, there's some good stuff in it. This is undoubtedly the best:

"it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners"

Clearly, this is the witness of 30 years of HIV/AIDS (among other things). Even Rome isn't so blind as to have missed same-sex partners' true LOVE, in extremis. That's the real "inch-by-inch" of the document. God, prosper such tiny steps by the Holy Spirit's healthy SHOVE in this direction!

James said...

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge.

I read that rather more hopefully than you:

The evidence doesn't support our longstanding dogma about "every sperm is sacred": are we honest enough to admit it?

James Pratt said...

JCF, I'm with you. There's still a lot in it that gives pause, and suggests that nothing substantive is going to change (opposition to adoption by same-sex couples, the bit on financial aid, firing gay teachers in Catholic schools), but they are dressing it up in a bit more pretty and less emotionally charged language.

At least it is a step in the right direction, and if they can get Burke, Cordileone et al. to tone down the harsh rhetoric and hate, it's a small victory.

JCF said...

James (not Pratt): can you say more re your interpretation? I honestly have no idea WHAT that paragraph is trying to say...

James said...

Let me tell you a story, which might explain why I read it this way:

In 1992 I went out to France to visit my parents. They had told me that two gay American gentlemen had moved into the village and I was likely to meet them. At the time I was a good evangelical and I spent a while rationalising how I'd deal with them, as I disapproved of homosexuality.

While I was there, there was a terrible accident. An old friend of my father's, on his way to visit, was knocked down in a hit-and-run and subsequently died, leaving a widow and a son. Both of them were distraught; more practically, neither of them could drive, nor yet speak French. I volunteered to get them home.

You can see where this is going. The two guys who did more than anything else to provide support were the two American gentlemen. The kindness, courtesy and support they showed them and me (it was a 500-odd mile drive, and it was stressing me out) would have put a lot of the practising Christians I knew to shame.

What I see this saying is not dissimilar.

It's recognising that people look at the sexual dimension first and say, "They cannot be good because they are gay". I see the Synod saying, "Actually, this is the wrong way round. Let's look at what these people really are and what they can be - in Synod-speak, let's elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity - and then let's look at the dimension that relates to their sexuality."

I think this ties in with the whole point about mutual aid to the point of sacrifice and the fact that Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.

That this involves a lot of people at every level of the Catholic Church changing the habits of a lifetime means that it is an important educative challenge.

That's how I read this: YMMV...